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Go (Chinese: 圍棋 wéiqí, Japanese: 囲碁 igo, [nb 1] Korean: 바둑 baduk, Vietnamese: cờ vây, common meaning: "encircling game") is a mental board game of skill played between two players. Originating in ancient China more than 2,000 years ago (later spreading to Korea and Japan), it is believed to be one of the oldest board games still being widely played today, along with backgammon (originating from Iran/Persia over 4,000 years ago) and chess (originating from India over 1,500 years ago). The game is noted for being rich in strategy despite its relatively simple rules. According to chess master Edward Lasker: "The rules of Go are so elegant, organic, and rigorously logical that if intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, they almost certainly play Go."[1]

Go was one of the 5 games played at the inaugural World Mind Sports Games, hosted in Beijing in 2008 after the Olympic Games (and held in the Olympic Village, where 2,500 competitors freely lodged).  Despite its few, easy-to-learn rules, Go is probably one of the hardest board games to master fully. This is probably due to the up-to-361 moves that can be made on each player's turn. This is why computers - whilst good for teaching intermediate players - cannot give very strong players a good Go game.  Contrast this with chess, which computers can easily master. The game of Go is traditionally played on a 19x19 grid. However, smaller boards can be used for learning or short games. In the game, one player is black, and the other is white. The players alternate placing black and white stones onto the intersection points of the grid. The objective is to control the most territory on the board.

There are several free Go games that can be downloaded, to play against your computer. There are national Go associations in every country, which co-ordinate clubs in most large towns and organise open tournaments throughout the particular country.  There are also many dedicated internet servers for free inter-player on-line games and leagues.  One can also play free Go on Facebook.  For complete details, history, rules, downloads, national & other links, please see the dedicated wiki site http://senseis.xmp.net/ - but be warned - Go is a very addictive game.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Two terms used in this game went on to be used as game company corporation names -- atari equating to "check" in Chess, and sente, which means "Gaining the initiative; a move that requires a reply".
  • Go was the basis for the board game Othello. In turn, Othello was the basis for arguably the first board-game-based video game, Computer Othello, released by Nintendo in 1978.
  • Along with Chess, Go is considered a precursor to strategy video games and wargaming, in turn a precursor to role-playing games.

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Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. The full Japanese name igo is derived from its Chinese name weiqi, which roughly translates as "board game of surrounding", see Etymology Of Go at Sensei's Library for more information. To differentiate the game Go from the common English verb to go, it is generally capitalized (Gao 2007) or, in events sponsored by the Ing Foundation, spelled goe.

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Introductory books:

Historical interest:

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